Perception and appearance are the two words that pop up repeatedly in a conversation with newly elected Sunnyside City Councilman Bill Gant.
Whether he is talking about the entrances to the city or discussions that will take place at board meetings, Gant talks about perception and appearance.
"The way a city council works in the public sphere is important," said Gant, who said he attended many council meetings once he firmed up his intention to run for a position.
"There seemed to be bickering that would go on periodically, and I don't think that's good for Sunnyside," said Gant. "If the council members go at loggerheads, they're going to read about it in the newspapers and that doesn't give a good perception."
He said he thinks his 43 years in education and as Sunnyside High School principal and service as executive secretary on the Yakima Valley Interscholastic Activities Association and as the public member on the State Osteopathic Board will stand him in good stead.
"There is a professional way of approaching the job or whatever you're attempting to do. I've been in professions for 43 years, and I like to think I have a professional way of doing thing," said Gant.
"Perception and appearances are extremely important things. If you look good, you'll be good," claimed Gant. "The entrance to a community has to look nice, be esthetically comfortable to people coming into this community. If it's not, the perception will be that the city's grown so fast it can't keep up with it."
He said he thinks the council has a handle on the growth Sunnyside is seeing.
"They're working on a sign ordinance and just hired a consulting firm to come in to see what kind of businesses should be interested in Sunnyside," Gant noted.
"I always thought that the city was pretty progressive. When they built the Sunnyside pool, they built the best in the valley. And the high school auditorium is to die for. Once the people here decide they want something, they go for the best," said Gant.
"I think the perception of Sunnyside is changing, for the good and for the positive," said Gant, who grew up in Outlook and recalls walking into Sunnyside on Saturdays where 35 cents bought him a movie and a bag of popcorn.
"Sunnyside was just a sleepy, little farming community. I'm not saying we should go back to that," said Gant. "We couldn't, but let's not outgrow ourselves. Growing is inevitable. What's important is how we regulate it and grow in a consistent and fair manner to all."
Gant was adamant about two things in his run for Position 4 on the council.
"I wasn't running against anyone, per se. It was my understanding that Bengie Aguilar had decided she would not run. When I filed for Position 4, I thought I might be the only one filing for that position. So running against her was the furthest thing from my mind. I just wanted a shot at the council," said Gant.
"And I do not have an agenda. I'm not here to specifically change anything," he said. "I'm going to look, listen and use the background I have."
Gant, like all those newly elected to the council in November, will be sworn into the office Jan. 9.